Update Your Application

This page describes the process of updating your CommCare application to a newer version in CommCare.

Important To Note

Updating the CommCare software is different from updating a CommCare application!

There are two components to CommCare:

Update Your Application

Releasing New Versions and Updates

1. Once you have multiple versions of an application, they will all be listed as follows: 

2a. By default, you will have access to all the options of an application build. You can go ahead and release an application build as per your requirement. 

The Release Mode functionality:

  • Restrict users from making accidental application releases.

  • Improves the user flow to ensure that additional steps safeguard intentional application releases.

  • It can be enabled for your project space by navigationg to Project Settings → Project Information → Basic → Enable Release Mode

2b. If you have the Release Mode setting enabled for your project space, you can see an option to lock or unlock the release mode for your application. By default, the release mode is disabled, meaning all the options associated with each application version are view-only. The state of the application version can't be changed. 

Click on the lock icon. This unlocks the release mode for the application, and you can now change the state of an application version. Mark the required version as Released by clicking the Released button on the build option. 

The main function to be aware of is the Latest Released label. Once an application is marked as Released, it means that when a mobile worker updates the application on their phone, CommCareHQ will send the most recently released version. You should be able to update your phone without re-installing your application with these steps:

  • Make a new version of the application on CommCareHQ

  • Click on Released, and notice that the version that you clicked this on has Latest next to it

  • Update the mobile app (see below)

There are several other actions on this page:

  • View More - this button will allow you to see older versions, which are hidden by default.

  • Revert - this will restore your application on CommCareHQ to its state at the time of a version. For example, if you accidentally deleted a module, you can go revert to a version of the application that had the module.

When looking for updates, CommCare apps will look at the latest released build. If an application is already updated to (or was installed with) the newest build, which has been marked as Latest Released, it won't update, even if newer (unreleased) builds have been created. If the latest released build's version is lower than the installed build, an update will not occur. If, for example, the last release was version 70, the currently installed build is version 73 (for testing and development), and there is a newer unreleased build, 74, the app will not attempt to update. If 74 is released, the current build will update the next time it checks.

Determining Your Current App Version

On CommCare Android you can view the current app version by choosing About CommCare from the settings menu either before or after logging in.

You can also determine the deployed version on CommCareHQ by using the Application Status Report in the https://dimagi.atlassian.net/wiki/spaces/commcarepublic/pages/2143945944.

Application Update Settings


CommCare can be configured to check for updates on a regular schedule. This is specified by the Auto Update Frequency setting in the Advanced Settings section of the Application Settings. When set to auto-update, CommCare will attempt to check CommCareHQ for new resources on a daily or weekly schedule. This check occurs in the background immediately after login. If updates are found, they will be downloaded and applied the next time the user logs in. Users can cancel updates being downloaded by navigating to "Settings -> Update App" on the mobile device.

If the app can't contact the server, it will try again on a future login.

Advanced Feature: Update Target Options: Allows you to turn on Developer Mode and use the Latest Saved State of your app without making a full release.

Manual Update

A manual update can also be initiated from the CommCare mobile application. 

New Version Update Prompt

For projects that have shortened inactivity timeout functionality, when a new version of an app is released, users will see a pop up message allowing them to either update to the latest version now or later.

This pop up will appear with the timeout activity pop up (generated a few mins before the timeout). Clicking Update Later will close the pop up and allow the user to continue working where they were. Clicking Get Latest App will navigate the user to the WebApps home page, from where they have to select to re-enter the latest released version of the app they were working in.

Note: The new app released pop up will not appear

  • For projects that do not have an inactivity timeout set.

  • If use_latest_build_cloudcare feature flag is enabled.

  • If the user has navigated from the Releases page to Web App.

Updating CommCare on Android

This option is the normal update workflow for apps and is recommended in most scenarios. Your device will need to have a network connection in order to update this way.

  1. Log into CommCare (it is not possible to update CommCare when using Demo mode)

  2. From the CommCare home screen, open the settings menu by pressing the three dots in the upper right-hand corner (or your phone's Settings button) 

  3. Select Update App and CommCare will look for a new version and download it if available. The version of the app that is downloaded will be the most recent starred build.

  4. When the download is complete, select the green update button to complete the upgrade process and log out of the app

  5. Once the app is updated, you will see a message that reads, App update was successful, and you can log in again to start using the new app version

Alternative Option: Offline Update

This option is primarily useful in scenarios where you know that you will not have a network connection when performing the update. Note that you WILL still need a connection to download the .ccz file initially (step 3 below). This option may also be useful if you want to update to a specific version that is not the latest starred build or (for advanced users) to update to a .ccz that you have edited locally.

  1. Connect your phone to the computer. Open the phone's SD card. (Sometimes phones will have two SD card folders - one in internal memory and one that is the actual physical SD card. In this case, try using the internal SD card first).

  2. Make sure you have a file browser on your phone (This should come automatically with all devices). If you do not, you can download one from the Play Store (ex. Amaze File Explorer). 

  3. On HQ, go to the Deploy page for your app, find the build you want to update to, and then press the "Deploy" button for that build.

  4. Select "Offline Install" on the Download to Android menu that appears, and then click to download the file "CommCare.ccz". 

  5. Copy the downloaded .ccz file to your phone. 

  6. From the CommCare home screen, open the settings menu by pressing the three dots in the upper right-hand corner (or your phone's Settings button)

  7. Select Update App. If you do not have a connection, the app update screen will say, No network connectivity. However, you can open the settings menu on that screen (the three dots in the upper right-hand corner) and then select Offline Update.

  8. Choose the .ccz file that you just downloaded. If you cannot find the file, you may need to tell your device to show internal storage or display advanced devices, which should be in the settings drop-down when you open the initial file selection from CommCare. If this doesn't work, install Amaze File Explorer and select the file that way.

  9. Select Update App once more to start the update process.


Technical Details and Naming Conventions

When new features are added, they are generally added to Major and Minor updates to CommCare. If an application on HQ is moved to a higher Minor or Major version number (1.2 -> 1.3, for instance), an application's resource files won't be able to be downloaded by an older version of CommCare.  

Advanced Software Upgrades

Since CommCare's resources are almost always included with the application files, upgrading CommCare often happens at the same time as the Application Resources are updated, and as such, a full re-installation should be used to update both at the same time (see note below).  This method of upgrading is not fully supported but can be used by experts.

In-Place Upgrade

In-Place upgrades basically involve installing the application onto the phone without first removing the old version. This is possible using the OTAPhone-to-Phone, and Memory Card installation techniques. It is never recommended unless you are using a completely offline deployment or in specific future use cases where OTA installation is being used to manage remote upgrades.

Below are guidelines for the minimum that should be required when performing an upgrade. Keep in mind that the safest way to upgrade an app is to always follow the full re-installation instructions.

Major Version (1.N.N -> 2.N.N)

Major version bumps will first require the migration of your application's resources to the newest version using CommCare HQ. Once a build of the app is available on the newest version is available, you should follow the full re-installation instructions.

Minor Version (1.1.N -> 1.2.N)

Minor version bumps shouldn't require any changes to your application resources (although they will often permit you to include new features in them), simply create a new build with the existing resources and perform a full re-installation

Maintenance Version (1.1.1 -> 1.1.2)

Maintenance releases are generally designed to be safe for an in-place upgrade on top of the old app (generally in order to correct bugs with OTA upgrades, although this feature isn't widely usable yet). However, a full re-installation is still recommended.